Heartless (2009) by Matt Wavish (Pazuzu)

Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , , , ,


(possible spoilers)

Jim Sturgess is superb as the main character with a heart shaped birthmark which cause him to shy away from people and live a secluded life, with his Mum, as a photographer. He generally walks around with his head down and always carrying his camera. One night, after work he’s walking home and comes across a vicious beating by what looks like hoodies, but they are actually demons. They have just thrown a petrol bomb over two innocent people. Its a cleverly executed death, and the fact we see demons prowling the everyday streets makes the whole set up quite unsettling. This is where the film really works, it blends an everyday street film with hints of horror, overpowered by a heavy drama of one persons longing to fit in. Throw into the mix a few plot twists and lots of sudden story changes and, as already said by Hughes and Highway, we have a bit of  a mess!

Anyway, after seeing the demons, the story moves on and our character keeps hearing the demons sort of screaming from behind buildings and corners. If this was a full on horror, it may have worked. There are moments are genuine fear, one particular scene at a graveyard where he goes back to collect his Mums purse and suddenly the air turns cold and he hears those demon screams again. But the film doesn’t stick with one formula; it seems to want to be everything and ends up being nothing. A huge plot change about half way through is unexpected, and in my opinion, quite brilliant. It opens up the film from its dark and intense build up of something nasty going on in the shadows and brings the whole thing out in the open. Weather this twist will work for everyone is another thing, but i liked this one. There were more to follow which aren’t so good.

One thing the BIG twist offered up is two brand new characters to the film. I will mention it as i don’t think it will spoil things. The Devil appears it what must be one of the oddest portrayals i have ever witnessed. The sheer silliness makes the whole thing, for want of a better word, genius. The film is worth seeing for this devil alone. Also, another new character arrives as a cameo. Eddie Marsan turns up as the “Weapons Man”. It’s a glorious performance of a truly unhinged, brilliantly scary character who is both hilarious, but edgy as you’re not sure what he’ll do next. He has some of the best lines of the film, and if your brain is close to switching off, or burning out, Eddie brings some much needed comic relief. And then, as soon as he appears, he buggers off in an exit that just might be one of my favourite scenes of the year!

I can’t really say too much more. So, we have part horror, part street drama, park noir thriller, part romance, part “fitting in” drama. It’s like Harry Brown, crossed with Angel Heart, crossed with a Mills and Boon story, crossed with something else and something else. There are plenty of ideas on offer, too many ideas really. The direction is pretty damn messy, but you can see what the director was trying to achieve, he just wasn’t able to deliver his masterstroke with any conviction. If the film was split into 3 or 4 different, CLEAR films, it may have been much better. There is too much going on here for it to come together smoothly and correctly. Hughes mentioned Noel Clarkes cameo as well. I quite like it, although i found it played a lot on him as a person and it felt like Noel Clarke had gate crashed the set just to get a bit more media attention to promote his new film, to be fair, he also added some light humour.

So, a huge mess and one that’s not entirely easy to follow and doesn’t quite give the answers you’re looking for (it’s like Lost!!!). However, praise where praise is due and I think if this director made more films, instead of one every ten or fifteen years, he may prove to be a major force. The ideas are there, the ambition is there, just not the technical wizardry needed for a film of such scope
Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆


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About Matt Wavish 598 Articles
A keen enthusiast and collector of all horror and extreme films. I can be picky as i like quality in my horror. This doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a classic, but as long as it has something to impress me then i'm a fan. I watch films by the rule that if it doesn't bring out some kind of emotive response then it aint worth watching.

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